The inaugural session for the pro-tem Sedelia legislature started with an invocation.
Then Kenny motioned that the first item on the agenda be tabled so some urgent business could be addressed. The motion was seconded and approved.
Kenny then motioned that the floor be given to Mz Ideka Nuffin so she could propose critical legislation. Again, the motion was seconded and approved.
Ideka was an accomplished public speaker. She was not prepared but her rage would not allow her to back down, especially since the session was being video streamed live.
“Did you know,” Ms Nuffin started, “that Sedelia is being filled with illegal, private vehicles?”
Raymond Rojas and Ideka Nuffin loathed each other. The reaction was instantaneous, visceral and mutual. It did not help that the chamber was arranged alphabetically with Huntington Woods and Hancock Park sharing the same table.
They may have treated each other with elaborate courtesy and were sure that the other was unaware of their true feelings for each other but one only needed to be in the same room with them for five minutes to see it.
Raymond was sure that Ideka Nuffin was a condescending idiot. Nuffin considered Raymond to be pretentious and a social climber.
Raymond’s assessment was accurate. Nuffin’s was not.
Nuffin thought Raymond’s use of big words was an act and she was sure he was mispronouncing most of them. Had she taken the time to research pronunciation and usage she would have learned that Raymond was spot-on.
“How can vehicles be illegal when Sedelia has no laws? In fact, that is the entire purpose of this session; a purpose you just derailed.” Raymond queried.
Nuffin ticked off the reasons on her fingers:
· “They are private vehicles
· They run on petroleum
· They are undoubtedly owned by profiteers
· They have not been taxed and registered”
“And so, what would you have us do?” Raymond cut to the chase.
“Confiscate them!” Nuffin said. “It is glaringly obvious that the State needs them more than the profiteers.”
Nuffin rearranged her décolletage. Nuffin had little in common with Sir Winston Churchill but she fully subscribed to his belief of finding a weak point and ruthlessly hammering until the opposition gave in. Raymond was a cis-male. Men look at boobs. Three hundred pound women have ample bait…ah, boobs. Get him staring at her boobs and she would own him.
“So you propose a law that Sedelia confiscate all private vehicles…and then do what with them?” Kenny asked, not unkindly.
Nuffin did not appreciate the distraction.
“Well, first they should be reserved for critical, Sedelia business.” Mz Nuffin said. “And then, as they import more illegal vehicles, some should be set aside for the poor people to use.” she continued.
Raymond Rojas rose to the challenge. “Supposing people continued to bring vehicles into Sedelia and willingly turned them over to the State, how do you figure those vehicles would help the poor more than they would in the hands of private citizens?” Raymond asked.
Damn, he was not looking at her. He was looking at his fellow legislators. Nuffin scanned. She saw a cute, forty-year old woman in the audience…nothing special…skinny, white, dark hair with a hard crinkle, cinnamon colored eyes. Nuffin was a sucker for cinnamon colored eyes. And she had freckles. Rojas wasn’t staring at Nuffin’s cleavage but the cutie sure was.
“Well, because Sedelia would make them available to poor people without charging them.” Nuffin said, looking at Raymond as if he were a complete moron.
“I have to admit I know a little bit about the cartage business.” Raymond said. “And I have to tell you that your premise is flawed.”
Nuffin made a face as if Raymond had defecated on her desk.
“For one thing, government owned vehicles are not very productive. The drivers hit the road by 10:00 and knock off at 2:00. Oh, and they take an hour lunch. They might get two runs in, but more often it is just one run a day.” Raymond said. Most members of the session nodded. They had all seen Cali vehicles parked in the shade at “lunch” with the drivers taking a siesta.
“Because most of these privately held vehicles are owned by rental companies who lease them out to the people who need them the most. The trucks are rented by the minute and the people who use them hustle. In fact, most often they load a trailer and simply hitch up and pull the trailer to save the time it would take to load the truck. The trucks run around the clock and make about twenty runs every twenty-four hours.” Raymond continued.
“As a point of fact I had one of those trucks delivering building supplies to one of my job sites at three this morning. I know that because I was there to receive those supplies and keep them safe until my work crew showed up.” at which point Raymond had to suppress a yawn. It did not help that a wave of yawns rippled across the chamber as legislators yawned in sympathy.
“That means that one truck in private hands stimulates the economy as much as twenty trucks run by the State.” Raymond said.
“The other thing is that confiscating these trucks means that nobody would bother to import any more of them. We need fifty times as many vehicles as we have or our economy would collapse just as it is starting to take off.
“There! I got you!” Nuffin crowed. “And every one of those trucks will burn twenty times as much carbon.”
Raymond was baffled. “So?” he said.
“And so we will be in violation of the third Kyoto agreement, of which, Cali was a key signatory.” Nuffin stated. “Fifty times as many vehicles, twenty times as many miles a day…that is a thousand-fold increase in carbon emissions!”
Now it was Kenny Lane’s turn to be baffled. “Why is that important? We are no longer part of Cali.”
Nuffin looked at Kenny and Raymond as if they were particularly dim students. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” She said. “Isn’t it clear that the only way we can reconcile and re-unify with Cali is if we honor all of our commitments. Well, that and turn over the war criminals as they properly requested. We simply cannot afford to strike off on our own if we want to re-unify.”
Nuffin was clearly so caught up in her own universe that she was oblivious to the fact that many of the pro tem legislators were those very “war criminals”.
“Ummm…I don’t think that most of us see reunification as our over-riding goal.” Kenny temporized.
Nuffin waved a languid hand, “Then however shall we survive, economically that is? We don’t have the ability to borrow enough to reinstitute Universal Basic Income and all of the Welfare supports.” She might as well have ended the sentence with “Duh!”
Raymond rebutted. “That, in a nutshell, is the divide. We make one decision today. Do we move forth boldly and leave the gravity-well of mediocrity and victimhood in the past or do we spiral back into dependency and the endless, internecine and fratricidal battles over the ever-shrinking pie.
Kenny said, “Normally, I would insist that we have a written copy of the proposed legislation in front of us before we did any voting. But since this is the first session, we are going to have some growing pains. We will chalk this up to ‘pump priming’.” He said.
“But before we vote, I want to do one thing.” Kenny said.
“Justin, Amy…did you hear enough to know what you are voting on?” Kenny asked a small group in the audience.
Nuffin objected. “What are you doing. They are not legislators.”
“Nope. They ain’t.” Kenny said. “They are a stand-in for the Supreme Court. In fact, they ain’t just any Supreme Court. They are gonna be stacked 5:4 against any proposed legislation. Anything ‘liberal’ they will be stacked 5 conservatives and 4 liberals. Anything conservative proposal will result in the straw-court be stacked 5 liberals and 4 conservatives.
“I ain’t signing anything that will not withstand a future test in an unfriendly court. Just ain’t gonna happen. You folks” Kenny said, gesturing to the legislators, “can override me but you might want to consider the futility of enacting laws that are going to get struck down the next time the winds shift.”
“Because your proposal attacks the rights associated with private property, I want Justin and Amy to stack the straw-court with five conservatives and four liberals. We will either table the measure or vote after they vote.” Kenny said.
The ‘straw court’ deliberated for twenty minutes. They ruled 7:2 against Nuffin’s proposal. The majority decision was delivered by Amy Obreckt, the “cutie” in the audience with the cinnamon colored eyes. Amy was the lead liberal but she sided with the conservatives. Her key point was that Nuffin’s proposal would disproportionately hurt the poor by reducing the availability of transportation and appeared to be solely motivated by Nuffin’s sense of status, privilege and entitlement.
The legislature tabled Mz Nuffin’s proposal indefinitely and got on with the true business of the day, enacting laws that defined Homicide, Kidnapping, Theft and other major crimes.
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